Acclime’s corporate snapshot – September 2023.
“Closing the loopholes” amendment bill will affect workplaces
The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023, introduced on 4 September, is intended to close loopholes in the existing Fair Work Act. Analysis by global commercial lawyers Ashurst suggests the bill will build on existing changes made in December 2022 to “further entrench the role of unions in Australian workplaces.”
Ashurst also says the bill will foster uncertainty about whether a worker is an employee or a contractor, will broaden regulation of labour-hire arrangements, and will regulate “employee-like” workers and the road transport industry, providing a regime for the Fair Work Commission to set minimum standards.
The lengthy Ashurst paper, which you can read here, also looks at the wage theft and civil penalties provisions of the bill, which both envisage significantly tougher penalties for employers in breach.
Allowing time for the ASX to consider draft notices of AGMs
Among the matters covered in the ASX’s monthly Compliance Update for August is a reminder that for the 90% of Australian entities which have a 30 June balance date, AGMs must be completed by 30 November, and ASX must be given sufficient time in advance to consider their draft AGM notices.
Especially where there are complex or multiple resolutions proposed, the ASX may take its full five business days to consider a Notice of AGM. This is why the ASX issues its yearly warning to ensure timely compliance.
You can read compliance updates 06/23 and 07/23, covering this and other important reminders, here.
And while we’re looking at time – remember, the ASX Market Announcements Office will remain open for an extra hour during daylight savings: that is, until 8:30pm Sydney time/ 5:30pm Perth time. Daylight savings time commences on 1 October.
Digital identity: A way through the maze?
The federal government has begun consulting on the exposure draft of its proposed Digital ID legislation and Digital ID Rules – a move welcomed by big banks as fortifying Australian digital identity safety.
The Digital ID Bill aims to regulate accredited digital ID providers so they keep customers’ information secure through the process of accessing online services. It will also expand the Australian government’s digital ID system to include private-sector organisations.
The Minister for Finance, Katy Gallagher, has explained digital ID as “simply the digital version of the act of someone looking at you, looking at your picture on your licence, and being able to verify that you are who you say you are.”
The government aims to deliver legislation by year’s end and to link federal and state systems by mid-next year.
Disclosure and liability in climate reporting
The federal government has released its proposed climate reporting regime. In response, the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) has advocated for a proportionate legal liability regime that supports comprehensive disclosure.
The government proposes that large entities (broadly speaking, the ASX200) must report from 1 July 2024 under Australian standards matching those of the International Sustainability Standards Board. Gradually, more entities will be drawn in, with organisations approximately equivalent to the ASX300 required to report from 1 July 2026.
The AICD supports the reporting proposals while monitoring directors’ declarations and other scheme elements. You can read their June summary paper – covering the government’s position and the Institute’s – here. There’s also a helpful analysis prepared by Allens Linklaters here.
Getting ahead of the AI wave
The AICD is also studying the government’s consultation paper on Safe and Responsible AI in Australia, which examines the measures needed to regulate ethical artificial intelligence (AI) and improve public confidence in its deployment across the economy. Such is the alarming pace of development in this area that the paper’s June release date now makes it feel like old history.
The AICD is pushing for a clarification of existing Australian laws that cover AI in areas such as privacy and data protection in preference to developing new regulations. The Institute also backs coordination between key jurisdictions, reflecting Australia’s global economic role.
Recent regulatory activity from ASIC
ASIC’s monthly ‘Market Integrity’ bulletin has reported on the imposition of a record $4.5 million penalty against Openmarkets Australia Pty Ltd for multiple compliance failures related to placing suspicious orders, system filters, failing to notify ASIC of suspicious orders, unprofessional conduct, reconciliation of trust accounts, and adequacy of resources. You can read about the Markets Disciplinary Panel findings here.
Elsewhere, the collapse of global crypto exchange FTX and the prosecution of its notorious founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, has reached local shores, as ASIC moved to cancel FTX Australia Pty Ltd’s financial services licence. The entity had already been subject to voluntary administration.
Sources of information: Ashurst, Australian Securities Exchange Ltd (ASX); Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); Allens Linklaters; Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).
Disclaimer: Acclime Corporate Snapshot is only intended to provide a general overview of matters of interest. It is not intended to be comprehensive and is not legal advice. Acclime Australia attempts to ensure content is current, but we do not guarantee its currency. You should seek legal and/or professional advice before acting or relying on any content.